North Fork music fest to mix beautiful scenes, local eats and classical music

Paolo inside his Southold home. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Paolo inside his Southold home. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A new classical and contemporary music festival will debut on the North Fork this month. Blending Southold Town’s historic sites, picturesque venues and local provisions with a world-class musical lineup, the Rites of Spring Music Fest is bringing together the best the region has to offer.

Pianist Paolo Bartolani, a coordinator of European musical festivals, is the visionary behind the four-part concert series, and its artistic and executive director. Mr. Bartolani moved to Southold from Rome in 2014, bringing with him decades of experience organizing international performing arts projects. He is currently the artistic project manager in international relations for the Italian institutions Santa Cecilia Music Academy and the Bologna Opera House. For the inaugural Rites of Spring Music Fest, Mr. Bartolani chose specific venues to host each event in the series.

“I tried to put together all that is beautiful in this area with Rites of Spring Music Fest,” said Mr. Bartolani. “On the North Fork and the East End of Long Island we do not have one concert hall for classical music. I think it would be adding value and enhancing the area to have these site-specific venues for performances. This is a way to enjoy the landscape through music and create something great for the community.”

The first concert of the series will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Brecknock Hall in Greenport, with a solo piano performance by Mr. Bartolani. The program, “Music and Nature: A Secret Alliance,” will feature pieces by Ludwig van Beethoven, John Cage and Claude Debussy, three of the most influential composers of western music in relation with the world of nature, Mr. Bartolani said.

For the second installment in the series, the Cliff Baldwin Ensemble will perform “Kepler Music: Songs from the Milky Way.” This program, featuring live electronic music inspired by the observations of the Kepler Space Telescope, will take place at Custer Institute in Southold Saturday, May 21, at 7 p.m.

A historic house tour featuring the music of the Arcanum String Quartet will be held Saturday, June 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The tour will include stops with mini-concerts at the Webb House in Orient, the Ireland House in Greenport and the Southold Town Historical Society museum complex in Southold, as well as a longer program at First Presbyterian Church of Southold.

The final event, an Italian opera night at Laurel Lake Vineyards, will offer Italian food and wine tastings along with a performance by distinguished Italian soprano Masha Carrera at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 11.

Abigail Field of the North Fork Promotion Council, which is sponsoring the festival, said the event is a welcome addition to the increasing number of sophisticated, small-scale concerts gaining traction on the North Fork, such as the summer opera series at Diliberto Winery in Jamesport.

“We have a growing virtuoso community on the North Fork,” Field said. “It is an organically growing tradition. It is becoming better and broader. What is striking about this program is not only the music, but the inclusion of history and the choices of venues.” 

Each Rites of Spring Music Fest event will feature foodie-approved delights. North Fork Chocolate Company and Laurel Lake Vineyards will provide an after-concert reception at the free Brecknock Hall event and a chocolate, wine and cheese pairing at the Custer Institute concert. Mattebella Vineyards, Fork and Anchor and North Fork Chocolate Company are providing box lunches and a reception during the house tour. And, during Laurel Lake Vineyards’ Italian opera night, Caci North Fork restaurant will serve eight Italian dishes.

For tickets and more information about the performers and programs for each event, visitritesmusic.org.

Schedule of events

Saturday, April 23, 4 p.m.

‘Music and Nature: A Secret Alliance,” solo concert by Paolo Bartolani at Brecknock Hall, Greenport. Free.

Saturday, May 21, 7 p.m.

‘Kepler Music: Songs From the Milky Way,’ music and conversation featuring the Cliff Baldwin Ensemble, at Custer Institute, Southold. 7 p.m. $35.

Saturday, June 4, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.

‘Music, History and the Natural Environment: An Immersive Experience,’ house tour featuring the Arcanum String Quartet in Orient, Greenport and Southold. $70.

Saturday, June 11, 7 p.m.

‘Opera and Sensory Perception: A Powerful Immersive Experience,’ Italian food and music by Mr. Bartolani and soprano Masha Carrera, Laurel Lake Vineyards. $120.